Quandry About Non-Waterproof Shower [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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12-28-2016, 07:19 AM
I consider myself an advanced DIYer and need professional advice.
Our home has 2 bathrooms and previously had 4 adult occupants who used both showers probably twice daily each for 5 years.
15 years ago I removed the upstairs shower and bathtub and installed an air tub with a tiling lip. The walls were tiled with standard 4x4 white tiles attached to green drywall with mastic and there were NO signs of water damage/penetration.
At the time we did not feel that an upstairs shower would be needed and I tiled the walls with expensive 12 x 12 granite tiles which cover all 3 walls of the tub surround as well as extend into the rest of the bathroom on one long wall over the vanity and also on the apron of the tub. I used 1/2 inch Hardiboard as a backer and the tiles are adhered with moartar, butted closely together, and grouted with unsanded grout.
We continued using the downstairs shower 1-2 x daily until 5 years ago when I tore out the shower and fiberglass pan and installed a Kerdi shower system which has been great. Those walls were also tiled with 4 x 4 white tiles attached to green drywall with mastic and surprisingly there was NO water damage/penetration there either!!
We are now thinking of installing a showerhead in the upstairs bathroom.
The question is what to do with what I now realize could be inadequate waterproofing of the walls. We are both in our 60s and the options are (as I see them):
1) Put in the shower (which will only be used occasionally), hope the granite installation will hold up and eventually leave the potential problem for the next homeowner.
2) Not put in a showerhead but as we get even older going downstairs to shower may become more of an issue.
3)Tear off the granite tiles and replace and waterproof the backerboard. I only have 4 spare tiles, the granite probably cannot be matched any more if any break, and some of them have or require one polished edge.
I would greatly appreciate any of the pros commenting on these questions.

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12-28-2016, 09:15 AM
Welcome, Benjie. :)

I'm confused. You began by saying you had two showers in the house, but are now saying you want to convert the upstairs bathtub to a tub/shower? And this conversion would involve using a stone-tile-over-drywall unit already in place? Can we get some clarification there?

If you got long-term use out of a previous shower with tile over drywall you can consider yourself lucky, but I'd not recommend trying it again. Entirely up to you, of course.

It is possible to build a tub/shower using drywall today and comply with building code and tile industry standards only if you use a particular direct bonded waterproofing membrane called Kerdi, made by Schluter Systems. Schluter has an ICC ER allowing the use of their membrane in that application. Use of most other such membranes requires the use of a CBU as backing material in wet areas.

Whatever your plan for a shower, I'd strongly recommend you build it in accordance with current building code in your area and the ceramic tile industry standards. To me it just doesn't make good sense not to do that today, but that's up to you and your code compliance authority.

My opinion; worth price charged.

12-28-2016, 09:39 AM
What I meant is that the upstairs tub/shower was ripped out and replaced with a tub only installation 10 years ago.
At that time the walls were covered with the granite tiles set over Hardiboard.
We now want to reinstall a showerhead but are concerned that the walls are not waterproof.
Please see my options (as I see them) at the bottom of my original post.
Thanks for your prompt and detailed reply.

12-28-2016, 10:23 AM
My biggest concern would be the tub to wall connection. If that is not properly waterproofed there could be massive water infiltration into your wall. Does the tub you put in have a tile flange?

12-28-2016, 01:11 PM
Yes there is a tile flange and I can inspect on 2 of the 3 walls via an access hole in an adjacent closet and an access door in an adjacent bedroom (to service the electrical connections etc. if needed). The gap between tub deck and the bottom of the tiles (~ 1/4 inch) is well caulked.
Using just the tub there is no sign of water.

Steve in Denver
12-30-2016, 01:29 AM
I'm not sure how good I'd feel about leaving the problem for the next owner to deal with, but just considering the potential issues you might face I'd say stick a shower head in there and inspect the walls from your access hole every now and then. As long as it doesn't leak, keep using it. If you see water coming through, then switch to option 2 (not put a shower head in). :) That or rip out what you have, properly waterproof it, and install some affordable tile.

12-30-2016, 04:21 PM
Thank you Steve. I know that no pro can condone using the shower without waterproofing but your option seems the most reasonable.
Thanks again.

Steve in Denver
12-30-2016, 06:11 PM
Lest there be any confusion, I'm not a pro. :)